How to coach your employees in customer service

CUSTOMER-SERVICE

How’s your customer service? It might seem like an old fashioned concept, but stellar customer service is one of the best ways to keep your business doing well in today’s competitive environment.

Like me, you’ve no doubt experienced both good and woeful customer service. It’s likely that you haven’t returned to the business with poor service, whereas you may be a loyal customer of one that consistently delights you.

You’re not alone! Time after time, offline and online, excellent customer service helps a business retain customers, while lousy service drives them away.

As we are presented with increasing choices for the goods and services we buy, more people than ever are prepared to switch suppliers. In 2013, a survey by Accenture revealed that consumers are likely to switch suppliers as a result of poor service and are increasingly frustrated with the level of service they experience. Even when purchasing a commodity such as fuel, many choose to buy from one location rather than another based on the appearance and customer service at a service station.

But it takes effort to foster the culture and systems that deliver stellar service in a business. Whether it’s the legendary service of etailer Zappos, the service mindset of this award winning Marriot Doorman, or the service at your favourite coffee shop, you can be sure it didn’t happen by accident!

Given the importance of customer service then, what can you do to enhance the service in your business? One powerful way is through performance coaching.

Coaching 

In business, performance coaching is often taken to refer to where the coach and coachee collaborate to facilitate the attainment of the coachee’s goals. It’s increasingly used to improve staff capability by helping people develop and apply their skills.

Perhaps you’ve trained a team member in customer service but find she is not so good at delivering on the job. If that’s the case, coaching might be beneficial. I must admit I’m not the most ‘natural’ on-the-job coach, but I’ve found coaching skills can be developed. Here are some tips I’ve put together over the years that might help you.

1. Communicate your requirements

As a leader, it’s vital to let people know the standards you expect and provide training in these standards.

2. Help her to establish goals

What’s important here is that the goals are set by your team member. For instance, a sales person might aim for an improvement in her average transaction value or customer feedback rating in support of the overall sales target for your business.

3. Ask her what she will do

With the goal set, the next question for your coachee is what she will do to progress towards the goal, including any assistance or mentoring she would like. The key here is to guide your coachee to making her own plan, rather than telling her what to do.

4. Help her evaluate the results

This stage is crucial! It’s vital that you meet together to review the actions taken and the results; then decide on next steps. By reflecting on what’s happened, your coachee will learn from experience.

5. Develop your coaching skills

To become a better coach it’s helpful to enhance your coaching skills through training and also by being coached.

6. Set the pace

A coach does not always have expertise in the area their coachee wants to develop, but in a small business they often do. If you’re also involved in customer service, it’s vital that you set a good example for your team to follow. Develop an eagle eye for good service, and apply it in your customer dealings.

Stellar customer service really does make a difference to the top line and profit of a business. It’s not the easiest thing to get right, but the dividends can be significant.